by Zinta Aistars
Yeah, so I was niggling and grumping and bitching a bit the other day. I do that sometimes. Putting in the hours at the office, churning out work like machinery parts, I was writing and editing my way through tall stacks of seemingly never-ending assignments. Hrmph.
The dear friend whose shoulder and ear bore the brunt of this niggling and grumping (poor thing) sweetly sent me a biblical passage about King Solomon learning to take enjoyment from his toil, even when toil was drudgery.
Got me to thinking.
Now, I’ve read that good book more than once, more than half a dozen times. It would probably be a stretch to call me religious. I’m not. But the topic fascinates me, always has, and I have traveled the gamut of spiritual beliefs over my lifetime. Truth of it is, I don’t talk to Him much—I argue. I shake my fist at the heavens, I batter Him with questions, oh and I do a lot of niggling, grumping and sometimes even some pretty ugly whining to those higher powers.
Which makes me think that I am either going south in the afterlife, I am merely clueless and blowing off steam, or that I greatly amuse Him. Ha, she thinks she knows something!
Still, I read that passage and gave it some thought. I get the count your blessings idea. Whatever your religion, or if you have none, it is still a good idea to be aware of the good things in our lives. But this story of King Solomon learning to be grateful for toil he did not particularly enjoy seemed to me to go beyond that. It seemed dangerously near to settling.
From my previous readings, I remember a story about God passing out coins to three dudes. One dude buries his to keep it safe. One dude saves his and earns a bit of cautious interest. The third dude invests his, taking some risk in the process, but comes away from his investments with an armload of coins.
Then the Big Guy shows up and asks for his coins back. The dude who buried his coin to keep it safe got spanked. The dude who cautiously turned it over got an unenthusiastic shrug. The dude who invested his coin and came away with a killing got two Godly thumbs up and a loud cheer. Well done!
What does that say about toiling away at our drudgery work? I get that some days even the best jobs suck. Nothing is ever as easy as it looks from the outside, and all things cost. Those are clichés that hold true. We can expect a blister now and then, no matter what we are doing for a living. Investing our talents may, in fact, give us more blisters than doing anything else.
I like my job pretty well, too—it involves the work I do best, writing and editing, and the more I do it, the better I get, and the better I get, the more I tend to enjoy doing it. Still, it’s not the creative writing that tugs at my heart most, and truth be told, my job is indeed a means to an end—4,449 days to retirement. When I’m done here, I will throw myself hook, line and sinker into the work that I love most. I will follow my bliss.
So often, however, I talk to people who do not like their jobs at all. They are in it for the paycheck. Or mere survival, although appropriate in crisis situations, shouldn't be a lifestyle. Such as these do what they must, no more and no less, and detest every moment of doing it. Their coins are buried deep. I do wonder why so many of us greet Fridays, TGIF, with such unadulterated glee if not a terrific sense of relief.
Should it be that way? Are we just ingrates? How many unemployed would weep for joy at having our jobs, or any job?
It gets complicated, this coin, as you turn it over and over in your fingers. Bury it? Save it? Or run the risk, invest everything you have and go for the treasure?
I was once asked on a job interview what I wanted to gain out of a job. I want to love a Monday, I said. The interviewer laughed and the job offer followed and I accepted it. I did love that job. Stayed with it for seven years. But I still hated Mondays …
I’m pretty sure at this point I am the dudette who is cautiously saving my coin and perhaps doubling or tripling it. I am not, not yet, walking the thin rope of ultimate risk and investing it with all that I have in me. That is, however, my ultimate goal, and I am now paving that road.
Somewhere in all this is a fine balance. Not to be reckless, not to be ungrateful, not to settle.
If King Solomon so hates his daily toil, maybe he needs a good kick and a new job hunt. Isn’t it wrong to waste the gifts and the blessings bestowed upon us? When we love what we do, we do it better, and our good work ripples into the lives of others, multiplying blessings. That I believe.
It could be that I forgot to count my blessings that grumpy day, but a degree of discontent can keep us straining toward that ultimate goal. Discontent can lead to innovation, progress, invention, even revolution. A degree of restlessness can fine-tune our efforts, realigning our paths so that we can end up where we were meant to be.
Rolling in treasure.
If that’s gold coins for you, fine, that’s your thing. For me, it’s a life devoted to my art, at long last diving into it with everything in me, every fiber of my being, loving every Monday and in fact, losing all sense of time. When you have found your line of work, your mission in life, then I believe you lose all track of time. You are driven.
There are still elements of toil. There are still occasional blisters. Yet those less pleasant moments are the outer rim of the moments when we are doing what we were created to do, when everything falls into place, our hearts hum in pleasure and we know our purpose. Suddenly, life is full of meaning. We are no longer working so much as we are living.